Florence Goodenough


Compiled by Andria Bosler (May 2000)

Goodenough Biography
Time Line

A pioneer in psychology, Florence Laura Goodenough, was born on August 6, 1886 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. This outstanding contributor to the field of psychology (as named by John Watson) got her beginnings as the youngest of the nine children making up her quaint farm family (URL1).

In 1908 Goodenough graduated from Normal School in Millersville, Pennsylvania with her Bachelor of Pedagogy. She began teaching and continued to do so for eight years.

The years of 1920-1921 were every eventful for Goodenough. In 1920 she earned her B.S. from Columbia University. During this time she was also the director of research at several New Jersey public schools. Her job description would today be considered that of a school psychologist. She studied the effects of environment on intelligence test scores and collected data on drawings of children. In 1921 Goodenough received her M.A., again from Columbia University, under Leta Hollingsworth. In was in this year that Goodenough began working with Lewis Terman developing the Stanford-Binet IQ test for children. This took place at Stanford University, of which the test is named. It was under Terman that Goodenough earned her Ph.D. in 1924. Goodenough was credited as a key researcher in Terman's longitudinal study of gifted children. This honorable mention is a rarity for a student of graduate status (URL1).

In 1924 Goodenough moved to her permanent location of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She began working at the Minneapolis Child Guidance Clinic. Within a year, she was appointed an assistant professor of the in Institute of Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota. Six years later, Goodenough was promoted to full professor in 1931. It was under this title that she spent the majority of her career.

Being appointed assistant professor was the marked beginning of much research resulting in numerous publications. Goodenough became interested in children, particularly the gifted and sought ways to measure intelligence. Finding the tools and means to do so unsatisfactory, Goodenough revised and invented tests for children. Studying exceptional children, child psychology in general, and anger and fear specifically were all points of experimentation for Goodenough's career, resulting in10 texts, and 26 research articles.

In 1947 Goodenough's title became professor emeritus, forced to take early retirement due to physical illness. This did not hinder her writing and publications. From 1947 to her death in 1959 she published four more texts, even though her degenerative disease stole her vision. On April 4, 1959 Goodenough died of a stroke in her sister's Florida home (URL2).


Florence Goodenough spread her influence, research, and theory through her ample literary contributions beginning in 1925 with Genetic Studies of Genius. This was the first of many; in 1926 Goodenough published her first book: The Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings. The Measurement of Mental Growth appeared in 1931 as well as Anger in Young Children. The Handbook of Child Psychology followed in 1933. After her early retirement, Goodenough built upon her portfolio with four more major works: Genetic Studies of Genius (1947), Mental Testing: Its History, Principles, and Applications (1949), Exceptional Children (1956), and Genetic Studies of Genius.

These literary works were the material milestones of the journey Goodenough was traveling. This journey began as she was earning her M.A. at Columbia. At this time, she was the director of research for the Rutherford and Perth Amboy public schools in New Jersey where she first collected children's drawings. To further her journey along, Goodenough worked with Lewis Terman as she did research helping with Terman's developments of the Stanfort-Binet IQ test for children. This is where she conducted research worthy of attention in Terman's book Genetic Studies of Genius.

Goodenough's most famous contribution was the invention of a test to measure nonverbal IQ. Her very reliable and highly valid Draw-A-Man test (also known as the Goodenough Scale) was a first to test non-verbal IQ in preschool and older-children populations. These drawings were looked at as a window to see mental processes and organization playing off the concept that children draw what they know–not what they see (Goodenough, 1975). This accomplishment was established in her first book: Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings. This test along with its revised 1940 Draw-A-Woman version was used well into the 1950's.

To continue assessment and testing, Goodenough revised the Stanford-Binet into the Minnesota Preschool scale which now included small children in its population. This test included both verbal and nonverbal sections and scores. It was at this time that Goodenough developed methods which are still used in observational studies. These methods were time sampling (studying a participant's behavior for a set period of time) and event sampling (studying a participant's particular behavior and counting its occurrence).

Goodenough didn't simply challenge the processes or testing methods of IQ tests, but she also critiqued the manner in the test were scored. She rationalized that mental age was not the same for all children. Instead, to allow comparison of children with in the same chronological age group, percentages should be used to report results. These arguments were presented in Handbook of Child Psychology of 1933.

Beginning in 1920, Goodenough became a forerunner in documenting effects of environment on intelligence scores. Even though her position on the nature vs. nurture debate caused the most controversy on her career path, she held her position that intelligence is a stable entity, challenging the effect of environment on the scores of children's intelligence tests.

Surprisingly as many contributions as Goodenough made and as many accomplishment and breakthroughs she achieved, she is not well known, not even widely recognized within the field of psychology. However, her contributions are an essential part of psychology's history.

Time Line
1886 Born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania as youngest of nine children.
1908 Bachelor of Pedogogy (B.Pd.) earned from Normal School in Millersville, Pennsylvania.
1920 Bachelor of Science from Columbia University under Leta Hollingsworth.
----Director of Research in the Rutherford and Perth Amboy New Jersey public schools.
----Began to document the effects of environment on intelligence test scores.
1921 Masters of Arts earned from Columbia University under Leta Hollingsworth.
1921 First began working with Lewis Terman at Stanford University.
1923 Published The Stanford Achievement Test.
1924 Doctorate of Philosophy earned from Stanford University under Lewis Terman.
---- Worked at Minneapolis Child Guidance Clinic.
1925 Appointed assistant professor in the Institute of Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota.
---- Published Genetic Studies of Genius.
1926 Published her first book: The Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings (Introduction to Draw-A-Man test).
1926 Argued that foreign language in the home was leading cause of mental retardation.
1931 Published The Measurement of Mental Growth .
----Published Anger in Young Children.
---- Promoted to full professor in the Institute of Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota.
1933 Published Handbook of Child Psychology .
1938 Served as president of the National Council of Women Psychologists.
1940 Goodenough-Harris drawing test established, as revised by Florence Goodenough and Dale Harris.
1947 Retired early from the University of Minnesota due to physical illness.
---- Published Genetic Studies of Genius.
1947 Appointed Professor Emeritus until her death in 1959.
1949 Published Mental Testing: Its History, Principles, and Applications.
1956 Published Exceptional Children.
1959 Published Genetic Studies of Genius.
----Died in her sister's Florida home due to a stroke at the age of 73.

Goodenough, F. 1975. Measures of Intelligence by Drawings New York: Arno Press
URL1 http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/goodenough.html
URL2 http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/goodenough.html
URL3 http://www.ericae.net/ets/womentest.html

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